SoftBank's humanoid robot named Pepper has just acquired a new job from a Japanese company. With the integration of a chanting software, Pepper could now work as a Buddhist funeral officiant.
Plastic manufacturing firm Nissei Eco Co. has crossed the borders, authoring a chanting software for Pepper. Presented at the funeral industry fair, the Life Ending Industry Expo, on Wednesday in Tokyo, Pepper is capable of officiating a Buddhist funeral rite. Pepper first came out to the public in 2014.
Although the humanoid robot has not yet scored a paid job for conducting funerals, it is expected to become a real deal one day. According to Nissei executive adviser Michio Inamura, Pepper can step in whenever a priest is not available.
A huge chunk of Japan is comprised of the grey population. Inamura tells Reuters that in Japan, "many Buddhist priests receive less financial support from their communities". This forces some of them to look for part-time jobs to suffice their daily needs.
Pepper can be hired to conduct funeral rites for around US$450 per sitting. A human priest can be hired for US$2,200.
However, the church is not in parallel to Nissei's vision. Buddhist priest Tetsugi Matsuo witnessed the demo for Pepper at the event. He says the heart is the foundation of religion and Pepper could not give that aspect.